Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

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Being Abused does not Justify Abusing

Rom 12:17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.

1Th 5:15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

1Pe 3:9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

I hope that all of you know by now that I fully understand the typical false nonsense laid upon victims of abuse that twists the Bible’s teaching on things like forgiveness, mercy, reconciliation, and so on. And I also, like all of you, hunger and thirst for righteousness, for justice, and even for God’s vengeance upon the wicked.

But I want to take the time in this article to be sure that in holding to these biblical and right positions, no one takes what we say here as grounds for doing to others what has been done to them. I am afraid that there are people and books floating around out there that justify such sin. They say things like “hurt people hurt people” and the implication is that somehow we are to give hurt people a pass when they hurt others. Not true. Nope. Having been the target of evil does not give me license to launch evil upon others.

Years ago there was a lady in our church who had gone through a bad marriage – I don’t know the details. But this lady was mean. She was demanding. And when she did not get her way she threw anger fits. She has hated me ever since the day I confronted her about her sin and told her that it had to stop. Her adult son took me aside one Sunday and said “we know my mother is a bitter woman. But we all have decided to love her anyway.” By “loving” her of course he meant “we ignore her nastiness and let her get away with it.” That is not love.

All of us have been abused by wicked people. Most of you who follow this blog have experienced deep, even intense evil and you have suffered greatly. The Lord knows and He will render His perfect justice to your persecutors. But this does not give us the right to be mean, to be seeking personal revenge, to snap at and lash out at anyone who does something we don’t like.

One form of this sinful nastiness is to become a person who hates men (or women) as a result of being wronged. I know such people. They have been abused by a man, so they resolved to hate all men. And they teach others to hate men. Where do you find that kind of thing anywhere in the Bible? You don’t. We are to love one another – love the brethren. That means loving both men and women. What are we doing to our children if we teach them such hatred? Girls, never trust a man. Men are evil.

Well, think that through. The Lord Jesus Christ is a man – the God-Man. While God is Spirit and in that sense without gender, nevertheless the Bible refers to Him as Father, as “He” and as “Him.” Can you see that a person who is taught to hate men is going to have a pretty tough time loving God?

We abused the Lord Jesus Christ. Our sins put Him on the cross. And yet He set His love upon us. Thankfully, He did not choose to hate all human beings.

So let’s examine ourselves carefully in this regard. Perhaps someone reading this has been taught to hate men – or if your abusere was a woman, to hate all women. And maybe you, as a result, have become, well, mean. That is a trap. It does not lead to anywhere good. And it is sin. Ask the Lord to show it to you, grant you repentance, and set you free.

Loyalty is a Fundamental Quality of Love

2Ti 4:16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!

2Ti 1:15-16 You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. (16) May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains,

Loyalty. Sticking with through thick and thin. You have the thing is traditional marriage vows – “in sickness and in health.” And yet it is a very rare gem, as the Apostle Paul describes his experience above. There are a few like Onesiphorus, but most desert and jump ship when a cost must be paid.

2Sa 23:14-16 David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem. (15) And David said longingly, “Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!” (16) Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it. He poured it out to the LORD

Loyalty stands with. It does not desert nor abandon. A loyal friend does what the Lord commands – bears one another’s burdens. Do you begin to see how rare this is – particularly in the place where it should be most easily found – the visible church. I do not doubt that most of you have been abandoned when it became “inconvenient” for friends to stick with you.

Think of Jonathan’s loyal love and friendship toward David:

1Sa 18:3-4 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. (4) And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.

Jonathan had a LOT to lose by being loyal to David when Saul, his father, was trying to kill David. And yet Jonathan stuck with his friend:

1Sa 19:1-2 And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted much in David. (2) And Jonathan told David, “Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself.

Loyalty is an essential, defining quality of love. Where there is the love of Christ, there is loyalty to Christ. Where it is absent, love is absent. People who claim to know Christ, but who desert Christ’s people in adversity, will not be owned by Him. This is widely denied among professing Christians today. I remember hearing a man who used to be in our church argue that this fellow surely was still a Christian:

2Ti 4:10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.

Demas blew it, this fellow said, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t still saved. WRONG! Demas chose the world over Christ. Why do professing Christians seem to want to defend his salvation? I can tell you why. Because they want to lower the bar and make it easier on themselves.

Central in virtually ALL the stories you have told me about how you were treated by family, friends, your pastor, your church is this thing, desertion. DIS-loyalty. Scripture reveals loyalty, or its lack, as a central litmus test of a person’s spiritual state. And so I say once again, if you want to know where a person or a church stands with Christ, look into how they respond to a victim of abuse. The truth is that the majority of them are of the same species as Demas. They love this present world.

Be Sure to Read This Comment by Lynn – She has Learned this Wisdom through Hard Experience

Lynn made the following comment recently in response to our post on “Love Conquering All” and the great harm this falsehood causes. I wanted everyone to be sure and see what she said, so here is her comment:

‘Love’ conquering all in relationships is a Disney fantasy projected into the minds of children so that when they become adults they long to have that kind of ‘love’ in their romantic relationships. Except it’s not real love, and it opens the door to all kinds of abuse.

Run far away from relationships that mimic any of the Disney princesses. Do not long to be Cinderella – flee from both the matriarchal abuse presented in the story and the idea that you can know someone well enough after one night to commit to a life of marriage – even if he is a ‘prince’. Titles and a lovely waltz don’t save you from abusive people. They may open the door to even more abuse. or Snow White – whose kind, trusting, naive nature endangered her life because she wasn’t wise to the nature of evil. Do not seek to be like Belle in Beauty and the Beast and try to tame the beast because you think deep down there is a heart of gold underneath that beastly exterior. 99.999999% of the time, the beast is just a beast. Remaining in a relationship only sacrifices you and will not change him.

The love we see in the Bible demonstrated by Jesus isn’t the same “love conquers all” love we see in the movies and TV. Yes it is powerful enough to redeem us from our sins. Yes it saves us and regenerates us bring us from darkness to light. But it will not save everyone. It will not save the unrepentant sinner. It will not save those who blatantly pursue a life of wickedness. It will not save the covert abuser from his or her coming judgement.

Being saved by God doesn’t mean that all will be made right for you in this life. It doesn’t guarantee your body or your mind will be immediately healed from whatever ailments you wrestle with as a result of living in a broken, evil world. It won’t magically fix your issues with your boss, your finances or your toxic relationships. Healing comes slowly with time, with study of the scripture, prayer and in being in relationship with other real Christians. It comes with finding the right tools, techniques and resources to break through the negative behavioral patterns in your life. It comes with letting go of all desire to enact vengeance on those who harm you and entrusting God to get you perfect justice. It comes with choosing to embrace healthy boundaries with yourself and others. It is a lifelong journey we pursue and never quite arrive at, but the investment is worth the effort.

Choosing to follow Christ may result in life getting worse for you because what you used to tolerate and participate changes, causing the people you’re in relationships with to notice, and not always in a good way. I don’t say that as a means of discouragement, but as one who wants to speak the truth to you in love. Following Christ will cost you something. It may cost you everything. And it is worth the cost. Eternal bliss with Christ, free from sin, pain, abusive people and death is worth everything.

Those who’ve been accustomed to your old way of life, especially if they’ve had control and influence in your life, most likely will not appreciate you choosing to stop doing things their way and choosing to get free of the toxic and ungodly relationships in your life.

We are told in scripture that if we love, father, mother, sister brother more than Christ we can’t be his disciples. Christ has to be preeminent in our relationships. Any relationship that is abusive we are commanded to leave. Remaining in its toxicity is not loving to yourself or the abuser. It doesn’t honor God, and only adds to your pain.

God doesn’t require you to remain in abusive relationships with family, friends, spouses, or ‘professing Christians’. He commands you to not eat with such a one and to not be unequally yoked with them. Remaining yoked with abusive people only brings misery. The good works you are called to do cannot take place when you are unequally yoked with an abuser. They will force all of their burden on you and then shame you for not being able to carry it.

Cast off that old heavy yoke of bondage and embrace the yoke of Christ. His burden is easy, his yoke is light, and in him you can find rest for your souls.

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